Fallin’ Skies duck hunter pleads not guilty; faces more charges

January 27, 2011 at 03:10 PM

“Fallin’ Skies” duck hunter Jeffrey Foiles entered a not guilty plea Thursday to a 23-count indictment accusing him of violating federal wildlife laws.

Moments later, Foiles learned he would be facing charges in Canada, too.

Foiles, best known for his series of “Fallin’ Skies” hunting videos, also is a waterfowl hunter, guide, call-maker and operator of Foiles Migrators Inc., a retail business near Pittsfield. He also is one of two owners of the Fallin’ Skies Strait Meat Duck Club in Pike County.

He appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Byron Cudmore in Springfield Thursday to answer charges he regularly killed ducks and geese in excess of legal limits as part of his guiding and video production businesses.

As he left the courtroom, Foiles was served with a summons to appear in court in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on April 5, the same day his trial is scheduled to start here.

Details of the charges brought by Environment Canada were not immediately available.

In the United States, Foiles is charged with conspiracy to violate federal laws against transporting or selling wildlife taken illegally, killing ducks and geese in excess of legal limits and keeping false records.

Since migratory birds travel across political boundaries, they are governed by the International Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

It is against federal law to kill or possess migratory birds without a permit or without observing regulations governing hunting seasons and bag limits.

The indictment says Foiles routinely allowed customers to kill more birds than allowed and falsified records.

Some hunts where limits were exceeded were included in hunting videos, the indictment says.

According to the indictment, “the main purpose of the conspiracy was to enrich Foiles through the collection of guiding fees, tips and proceeds from video sales and sponsorship agreements.”

On Oct. 9, 2004, the indictment alleges Foiles guided a goose hunt in Canada during which participants killed about 20 Canada geese over the sum of the hunters’ individual daily bag limits.

“When the cameraman became upset at the number of geese being killed and shut off the camera, Foiles order him to continue filming,” the indictment says.

As part of Foiles’ bond agreement, he agreed to give up firearms for personal use kept at his home, including those owned by family members living with him.

As a holder of a federal firearms license, he can still display and sell firearms at his business if they are already are in stock. However, he won’t be allowed to buy or trade for any additional firearms while legal proceedings are ongoing.

As part of his guiding business, he also cannot possess a firearm in the field.

Foiles’ attorney asked that Foiles be allowed to continue to use firearms while guiding, especially to help clients with their guns.

Cudmore denied the request.

“He should be able to modify his business,” Cudmore said, repeating that he is making an exception for Foiles’ retail business and allowing him to keep his “recreational archery equipment.”

“I am moving substantially below my usual restrictions,” he said. “It is a large deviation from what I usually put into place.”

Chris McCloud, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, said no action will be taken against Foiles’ Illinois hunting privileges unless he is convicted.

“Only then do we assess what points are to be entered into the database,” McCloud said.

Read the indictment here: http://blogs.sj-r.com/podcasts/wp-content/uploads/01272011foilesindict.pdf